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Report: ATLUTD, Newcastle agree transfer fee for Almiron

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What was once a matter of time now appears to be merely a matter of formalities and medical tests, as Atlanta United midfielder Migurl Almiron is set to join Newcastle United after the two clubs agreed a transfer fee (finally) on Tuesday, according to a report from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

[ MORE: Sporting KC trade Opara to MNUFC for potential 7-figure sum ]

Newcastle had been long rumored as the European and Premier League side most keen on signing the 24-year-old Paraguayan in recent months and weeks, yet there appeared to be very little movement due to ongoing uncertainty regarding the Magpies’ finances.

The report did not mention a dollar figure, but Atlanta United president Darren Eales said right after the Five Stripes’ 2018 MLS Cup triumph that it would take a bid of at least $30 million, a sum that would dwarf the current MLS record for an outgoing player. That number was received last year when Bayern Munich signed Alphonso Davies for (up to) $22 million. Almiron is reportedly en route to the northeast of England to complete the necessary medical examinations before signing on the dotted line.

[ MORE: Inter Miami proposes Fort Lauderdale training center ]

Eales and Co., aren’t exactly operating from the strongest position of power, though, as they announced last week the arrival of Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez as the club’s fourth Designated Player. MLS rules limit teams to three DPs, meaning one would have to come off the books before the start of the season. Almiron was always the obvious answer to that particular problem, but Newcastle will have surely known this and used that knowledge to their advantage during negotiations.

On one hand, Newcastle feels like the perfect place for Almiron to take the next step in his career without skipping too many in between and setting himself up to fail. On the other hand, Newcastle could very well be relegated to the Championship in five months’ time and Almiron will be looking for a new club once again. Back on that first hand again, he’s precisely the kind of creative playmaker so desperately coveted by a side with only 19 goals scored through 23 games.

[ MORE: What did we learn from USMNT’s win over Panama? ]

Either way, it’s a massive win for all parties involved — Atlanta, more so and smarter than just about any other team in MLS, will reinvest that money back into the first-team squad; the perception of MLS improves every time a young player exits the league better than they were when they arrived; Newcastle owner Mike Ashley can now say he backed manager Rafa Benitez in the transfer market; and Almiron can begin the European chapter of his career with nearly a decade of high-level soccer still left in him.

Report: Man United plotting January move for Sancho

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Jadon Sancho has made it known that he intends to return to England and the Premier League in the not-so-distant future, and Manchester United appear to be weighing up a January move for the 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund star, according to a report from the Guardian.

[ MORE: Berhalter: No “like-for-like” replacement for Pulisic ]

With Sancho struggling early in his second full season in the Dortmund first team, Man United chief executive Ed Woodward could see this as an opportunity to acquire an exciting, young English talent at a cut-rate price.

Just last month, Sancho was dropped and fined by Dortmund for returning late from England duty. Last weekend, he was subbed off after 34 minutes — without an injury — and harshly criticized by manager Lucien Favre after the game.

[ MORE: Sterling backs Gomez after boos were heard at Wembley ]

Woodward and United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are said to be interested in signing Sancho, who they see as a summer transfer target ahead of the 2020-21 season, in January to allow the player an additional six months to settle into his new surroundings before the massive weight of expectations are fully thrust upon him.

Sancho scored 13 goals in 43 appearances (all competitions) for Dortmund last season. The former Watford and Manchester City academy product has four goals in 16 games this season.

Man City’s attempt to block UEFA investigation denied in court

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MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) Manchester City lost its attempt Friday to block an investigation into allegations it deceived UEFA while violating rules that monitor soccer club finances.

[ MORE: Berhalter: No “like-for-like” replacement for Pulisic ]

The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that City’s appeal against UEFA’s handling of the investigation was inadmissible. The two-time defending Premier League champions tried to stop UEFA’s club finance panel from handling a referral by investigators to impose a punishment.

“At CAS we can only hear appeals against final decisions,” said Matthieu Reeb, the court’s secretary general.

UEFA investigators had called for a severe penalty — that City be excluded from the Champions League for one season.

The file will now proceed to UEFA’s club finance judges. Any sanction they impose can also be challenged at CAS.

The latest UEFA investigation started after leaks of City’s internal correspondence and documents to German news outlet Der Spiegel last year.

The leaks implied City deceived UEFA for several years, including by hiding information that revenue from potentially overvalued commercial deals came from the club’s owners in Abu Dhabi to curb losses.

[ MORE: Report: LA Galaxy want Cavani to replace Zlatan ]

City has never disputed the authenticity of the documents.

“There was absolutely no examination of the merits,” Reeb said of the three-judge panel’s ruling. “We cannot say whether the decision of the alleged breach of financial fair play rules are real or not.”

Friday’s ruling extends a long-standing conflict between City and UEFA in the era of “Financial Fair Play” rules which began in 2009 after consultation with clubs. The project was intended to protect clubs from reckless overspending.

UEFA rules limit cash injections from wealthy owners, which critics say penalize emerging clubs with big ambitions. Commercial deals such as shirt sponsorships that are suspected of being inflated are also assessed for the fair market rate.

City was deducted $22 million of Champions League prize money by UEFA in 2014 in the first round of FFP judgments.

Report: Bruce hopes to bring Xhaka to Newcastle in January

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Steve Bruce has prioritized a loan move to bring Granit Xhaka to Newcastle United in January, according to a report from Sky Sports.

[ MORE: Berhalter: No “like-for-like” replacement for Pulisic ]

Xhaka, now the former captain of Arsenal after his recent confrontation with the club’s fans, is expected to leave Arsenal in January and Bruce hopes that Fabian Schar, a longtime teammate of Xhaka with the Swiss international team, will be able to persuade the 27-year-old midfielder to choose the Magpies over what will surely be a long list of clubs desperate to acquire his services.

According to the report, a number of clubs in Italy have already expressed an interest in signing Xhaka — whether or loan or permanently — therefore Bruce and Co., are likely to face plenty of competition. However, the chance to remain in the Premier League and prove his detractors — many of them Arsenal fans — wrong could be appealing to Xhaka.

[ MORE: Report: LA Galaxy want Cavani to replace Zlatan ]

Xhaka, who is not currently injured, hasn’t made an appearance for Arsenal since the incident occurred late last month. Schar recently said that he “can’t wait to give [Xhaka] a hug” next time the two players see each other.

VIDEO: Each PL team’s best and worst player of October

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PST’s Joe Prince-Wright looks at the best (and worst) player of October for each Premier League team as the league enters its final international break of 2019.

[ MORE: Berhalter: No “like-for-like” replacement for Pulisic ]

With Liverpool and Leicester City flying high, picking the Reds’ or Foxes’ best player presented plenty of worthy candidates. As for terribly underperforming sides like Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Southampton, it was a challenge for the opposite reason, though JPW wasn’t short on options when it came to worst performers.

Hit Play on the above video to see who graded out well — and not so well — for your club, and feel free to agree or disagree all you want in the comments below.